7 Photographic Lessons Learned Traveling through Europe

7 Photographic Lessons Learned Traveling through Europe

Last year i went to Europe on a personal photo tour. My journey was a long road which included just about every type of transport invented by man; plane, train, boat, subway, and taxi. I trudged through the rain with a huge pack, weighed down by tripod and camera gear. I walked along the side of the highway to Stonehenge in England. I sat in the pews of St. Chapelle’s in Paris. I crossed over the canal bridges of Venice. Every day I journaled what I saw, what I felt, and what I wanted to capture.

I guess when you are a wedding photographer with clients to keep, clients to find, shoots to edit and albums to create, it’s easy to take the art of photography for granted. This trip I forced myself to slow down and just enjoy being a photographer again.

I wanted to share some of these lessons with you:

1. Sometimes you have to watch and wait for the perfect opportunities


Sunset at the Eiffel Tower is beautiful. But it wasn’t until we were walking away that I turned back after the sun went down and saw the exquisite dark clouds creating a gorgeous canvas for the Tower lights.

2. The great moments in life are the ones worth shutting off the noise


Visiting the Castle at Angers, my friends and I went from room to room finding beauty. When inside this chapel, I sat down on the floor as the others walked away. I knew I wanted to capture the stunning stained glass windows as the colors fell on the wall. I couldn’t create this shot until everyone was gone.

3. Every day scenes are inspiring


The grandiose isn’t always the most inspiring. Sometimes being a photographer is more about showing others something they have always seen before- but in a new way.

4. Away from the chaos, you remember the things you truly enjoy


Many individuals check out the sites that are “famous”. But surrounding these places are lovely little settings like this bench scene. I am in love with benches, and was inspired by this quiet scene away from the noise.

5. Be ready for the unexpected – and don’t be too busy to seize it

5. CliffsAtDover.jpg

I was photographing this sunset on the Cliffs of Dover with limited time to catch the last train out. The longer we waited, the less time we had to run back a couple miles to the station. But the longer we waited, the more the sunset intensified. I have to admit, we never expected the explosion of color that occurred here.

6. Life itself is an art; sometimes we just need to be reminded of this

6. Oxford Girl.jpg

In Oxford everywhere you look is a photograph. But I realize that I’m also deliberately looking for photographs when I’m in the unfamiliar. I was walking along the Oxford canal behind this woman, and was inspired by the setting – she is just along her every day path in the middle of beauty. I love this shot for that reason.

7. There is wonder all around us waiting to be captured


I visited many churches during my trip. This is one of my absolute favorite photos from my trip. In the middle of a large church, with grandiose scenes, is this little room tucked away from plain sight. There is so much wonder in this setting and it draws me in again every time I look at this photo.

Ultimately my lessons through this journey come back to one thing: Being an artist takes intentionality. Invest yourself and your heart in creating, and there is no limit to the beauty and inspiration you can capture…

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Christina N Dickson is a visionary artist and philanthropist in Portland Oregon. Her work includes wedding photography www.BrideInspired.com and leadership with www.RevMediaBlog.com.

Some Older Comments

  • Steve Heap March 24, 2012 01:10 am

    I agree that the shots are lovely, but just wanted to comment on that first post about copyright. The internet is great, but it is also guilty of spreading many misconceptions. The copyright of a photograph belongs to the photographer and that person can use the image on their own blog or in a post like this to illustrate an example of a photographic approach. The lights on the Eiffel Tower are copyright and so an image including them can not be used for commercial purposes without license, but commercial purposes are those where the image is being used to promote a product or advocate for a particular idea. Same thing with people - picture 7 could not be used to sell footwear without a model release, but is perfectly fine as an illustration of an article about the rivers near Oxford. Copyright restrictions depend on the use that the image is being put to, not the taking and displaying of the image. I sell my digital images for stock photography and come across this issue all the time. Many of the online stock agencies now allow you to submit images as "editorial" and these images can contain people and art work/architecture subject to copyright without getting any releases. If you want to find out more about selling your pictures, I have written an eBook about getting started in stock photography:


  • Shabbir Rozi March 19, 2012 10:09 pm

    I am Shabbir Rozi from Pakistan and I m trying to learn Digital Photography, and visits your site and read your news letters regularly, Dear sir You r doing a great effort, what ever I learnt about digital photography,is due to digital photography school thanks to you.
    Sir I would like to know that how can I send You my own Photographs so that I get comments on it, to improve and learn more about digital photography .

  • selva March 17, 2012 04:35 am

    I just enjoyed your moods and what you captured. Thanks. Here I am in India. You took me back to Oxford . Thanks....selva

  • Anand March 16, 2012 06:11 pm

    Wow what inspirational shots! I am due to tour Europe in June and I hope that I will not be a hinderance to my wife cos I will trying to capture everything around me. Lol. Thanks for sharing those moments with us

  • Bobbyg March 16, 2012 11:57 am

    The sunset shot is my favorite absolutely beautiful. You are so right about photography, it has taught me to slow down and SEE things and stop for a moment and Feel what I see, instead of just looking at it and moving on. Life is way too short. Since getting back into photography I feel better about myself, I create art, and inspire others to think about the next sunset they see. If anyone like one of my shots I give it to them and tell them they can do this too.

  • Prabhakar March 16, 2012 05:07 am

    Christina you are a class act! Yes, very true that we need to remind ourselves often that there is indeed wonder all around us waiting to be captured - only that we need to watch and wait for that perfect opportunity, enjoy the moment calmly and capture visual treats in various forms.

    True oil on canvas like pictures - the lady walking by the bridge, the bench scene and the Eiffel. They are all gorgeous!

    I will remember your words when I tour New Zealand & Australia later this month and draw inspiration from you.

    Well done and thanks for sharing.

  • Jason Racey March 16, 2012 03:51 am

    There's little in the shots you post here that say "Europe" to me. Except for the Eiffel Tower if you claimed they were all shot in and around New York City wouldn't have known any better.

  • Lauri Novak March 16, 2012 01:42 am

    I am heading to Frankfurt, Nurburg (Nurburgring Racetrack), Zurich, Salzburg, Munich, Fussen and back to Frankfurt in one month. I can not wait to record my trip. It will be unusual for me as I am used to taking these sorts of trips on my own, I will have my 70 year old mother and my brother who has never traveled over seas with me. I have requested of them at least some time on my own to wander so I can capture some of the sites of where we'll be. I'm excited to be taking them both on their first overseas trip and also excited to take in all the beautiful scenery, churches, castles, landscapes & mountains. Thanks for the 7 insights - we all need to be reminded of these things every now and then!

  • Danielle March 16, 2012 01:29 am

    Fab article and guidance.... I'm visiting Geneva, Switzerland in 3 weeks and will 100% look at things in an un-obvious way rather than the 'standard' tourist traps! :)

  • K March 14, 2012 11:50 pm

    Switzerland is a great place for taking photographs from rural to urban scenes. Check out my site for some examples. This is a really great article that has given me some great tips. I like to try and photography tourist destinations from a different angle

  • Al March 13, 2012 10:56 pm

    Good read.
    Your first point is the most important IMO. Good things come to those who are patient:


  • BJ March 13, 2012 05:44 pm

    Those photographs are stunning. Is that an HDR camera?

  • MeiTeng March 13, 2012 04:39 pm

    I like the idea of every day scenes.I try to capture these when I travel to new places.

  • clicknlearn March 13, 2012 01:45 pm

    Nice tips. Agree about waiting for the right time.



  • aniceto rivera March 13, 2012 10:33 am

    your are a such beautiful soul and one of heck of photographer.. good luck..

  • Scottc March 13, 2012 09:44 am

    Europe is the place where I got into photography from the start. There's a photographic opportunity around every corner, it is an amazing place.

    I have so many photos from various places in Europe I would not know where to start, but here's one of my personal favorites.


  • Victoria - Washington Boudoir Photographer March 13, 2012 05:41 am

    Christina your work here is amazing, I LOVE your shot of the Eiffel Tower, just so inpiring! My husband is in the military and currently stationed in Greece. We have talked about me visiting and I hope to be able to use some of your lessons for when I go on my own trip overseas!

  • Samantha March 13, 2012 03:58 am

    Love!!!! I'm going to Europe in April and this was so inspiring! Wonderful post =]

  • Marcus Davis March 13, 2012 03:36 am

    Great article! I love your photo from the Cliffs of Dover. Like you said, just a last second explosion of color.

    I think the best thing people can take from this article is to slow down and take your time. I know I tend to miss things when I am in a hurry.

    I think you were either lucky or invisible to get some of the shots you did. lol When I went to England last year, most of the churches we went in had strict 'no photography' rules. Congrats to you for getting these shots.

  • raghavendra March 13, 2012 03:06 am

    waiting for the perfect moments is the beauty in photography!


  • Mridula March 13, 2012 02:19 am

    Last I went to oxford was in 2009 and I just love that place. Here are some images from punting at the river Cherwell.


  • steve slater March 13, 2012 02:19 am

    I am on a tour of Europe at the moment. I tend to keep away from the cities - there are some truly wonderous scenes in the rural areas or small towns.

    I have not found a problem with permissions - in Spain and Italy they love having their photo taken and are hugely disappointed if you do not. There is some great scenery in these countries as well.

    The history is amazing as well. This photo (part of a series) is of a cathedral in Italy in a small town hardly bigger than a village. When you go inside the splendour hits you:


  • hubblefromthesun March 13, 2012 02:08 am

    My favorite lesson is waiting and taking the time to enjoy everything.

  • Erik Kerstenbeck March 13, 2012 01:56 am


    Great article and guidance - I would like to add that some places do not take kindly to Photographers with Tripods, like in Rome. I managed to shoot this before being busted by Security


  • bobek March 13, 2012 01:35 am

    BTW you have probably violated copyright by publishing the illuminated Eiffel Tower, check http://www.eiffel-tower.com/the-eiffel-tower-image-and-brand/image-rights-the-eiffel-tower-brand.html

    ... yes, not only US have a bunch of crazy legal stuff related to photography :(((